What to Do If Your Job Compromises Your Morals - Deepstash
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Moral injury in the workplace

Moral injury in the workplace

Moral injury is a trauma response to witnessing or participating in workplace behaviours that contradict one’s moral beliefs in high-stakes situations.

Organisational decision makers are ultimately responsible for preventing moral injury, yet individual employees are often forced to deal with the consequences on their own.


101 reads

A Continuum of harm

Terms used to describe responses to moral events.

  • Moral challenges are single incidents or low-stakes transgressions, such as using lower-quality materials or requiring an employee to stay late as an exception.
  • Moral stressors involve more substantial or regular moral transgressions, for example, a dental practice that upsell patients on unnecessary treatments.
  • Injurious events, such as a health care worker that is required to provide a medical treatment that will lead to more unnecessary treatments.


63 reads

Confront denial and listen to your pain

Confront denial and listen to your pain

Denial of moral injury can be a coping mechanism. But that instinct to survive can lead to organisational Stockholm syndrome, where you form a bond with your abusive environment while ignoring its harmful effects.

If you find yourself saying, “She probably didn’t mean it that way”, or “He’s just having a rough week again,” take note. It is fine to give someone the benefit of the doubt once or twice. But if it is a pattern that causes destructive outcomes for others, you have to face the harm.


46 reads

Engage in “soul care” as self-care

Moral injury is often described as the wounding of the soul and needs a particular kind of attention to heal. An honest conversation with a trusted professional is a good way to release the emotional pain.

Restoration isn’t a quick process, but if you want to leave behind the remnants of moral injury, you’ll need to commit to the process.


51 reads

Avoid vengeful and entitled reactions

Avoid vengeful and entitled reactions

The bitterness of moral injury can lead to craving revenge. However, any momentary satisfaction will be short-lived as you'll be compromising the very values that were injured.

Learning to self-regulate is critical to steering clear of acting impulsively. A close confidant, mentor, or coach that you can call on short notice can be helpful.


38 reads

Determine what role forgiveness can play

When your conscience has been wounded, choosing forgiveness requires you to step back and explore your relationship to this often misunderstood value.

  • Forgiveness is not the restoration of trust. Forgiveness means letting go of your bitterness and desire to pay back for the harm incurred. It's letting go of your anger as a source of motivation.
  • Forgiveness is a process. It's a daily choice to engage and release the emotions that flood your mind.


35 reads

Shed shame to restore your moral center

Shed shame to restore your moral center

Grappling with the harm we've caused is one of the most painful discoveries when dealing with moral injury.

Guilt and shame can cause health issues. One way to shed regret and shame is to accept the things you did and didn't do. This will reignite your convictions.


44 reads

Change your situation

We cannot restore our conscience while continuing to violate our values. It also cannot heal in the same situation where the injury continues to take place.

Sometimes it is possible to do good work or help change our organisation, such as helping to create new regulations. But if that's not possible, leaving the situation is a necessary step.


42 reads



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